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EMILY’S LISTS! Saddam’s capture freed Iraq—and put a lid on a simpering press corps:


SCHIEFFER MADNESS: If you missed our Saturday post about Schieffer-on-Gore, we strongly suggest that you check it today. Be sure to play the actual tape. One correction: This amazing commentary actually aired during Friday morning drive time. As they drove to work, Schieffer lied in their faces. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/13/03.

RUMMY’S WINTRY MIX: The most interesting part of Safire’s column today is its opening paragraph. We know what he did last weekend:

SAFIRE: On Saturday night, I stuffed myself on lamb chops and potato pancakes at a holiday party at the home of Don and Joyce Rumsfeld.
“Along with other media bigfeet,” Safire says, “I chatted up Rummy and C.I.A. chief George Tenet.” But neither man tattled about Saddam’s capture. “So much for being a Washington Insider,” the self-effacing Timesman laments.

Should scribes party-hardy with those whom they cover? Last summer, we noted that Gwen Ifill enjoyed some top-notch home cooking over at Condi Rice’s place. Sadly, Rice had received some home cooking too; one week earlier, on the NewsHour, Ifill had taken a total dive when she interviewed Rice about uranium-from-Africa. Should scribes be best buddies with those whom they cover? That wintry mix at Rummy’s home shows how bigfoot Washington plays it. Their parties come first. Your interests come second. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/03.

EMILY’S LISTS: Everyone gained when Saddam was captured. In Iraq, citizens were pleased that the tyrant was finally in chains. And here in the U.S., we gained big too. Given new matters to natter about, your Washington “press corps” finally stopped talking about why Gore didn’t call poor Joe Lieberman.

Has any recent event done such a good job of showing your press corps’ fatuous values? For us, the Capital Gang really captured the moment. After all, when Gore endorsed Dean, he made quite a statement. “This nation has never, in two centuries and more, made a worse foreign policy mistake,” he said, referring to the war in Iraq. But Cap Gang pundits weren’t troubled by that. Instead, thoughtful scribes played Emily Post, detailing Gore’s ignored social obligations. No, we aren’t making this up:

AL HUNT: I think worse than not calling Joe Lieberman, who he put on the ticket, was not calling Jeanne Shaheen, who bailed him out in New Hampshire four years ago, when he was running behind Bill Bradley, and who’s now running Kerry’s campaign, and not calling Charlie Rangel, whose district, whose Harlem district is where he made the endorsement.
He was even supposed to call Charlie Rangel? The Etiquette Experts were checking their lists. Like Topsy, the list just kept growing:
ROBERT NOVAK (continuing directly): Well, let me—

HUNT: And I’ll tell you, Dean—Gore sees this as 2008 for him. Jeanne Shaheen and Charlie Rangel, I suspect, won’t forget this.

NOVAK: Well, let me add a couple other “don’t call ’ems.” He didn’t call John Kerry and he didn’t call Dick Gephardt.

MARK SHIELDS: Or John Edwards, who’s on the—

NOVAK: John Edwards. And they all supported him. John Kerry supported him in New Hampshire when he was about, running about double digits behind Bill Bradley.

MARGARET CARLSON: You know, when asked about it, he said, Well, it might leak. Well, hey, A, it did leak. But a leak is a small price to pay for at least looking loyal to all these people who’d been loyal to him.

He should have called Edwards! Readers, did Gore call you before he spoke? We hope that you’re suitably miffed.

In our view, few recent episodes have shown, so clearly, your press corps’ frivolous values. Endlessly, pundits strained to avoid discussing Gore’s tiresome statement about Iraq. As we noted last week, many pundits avoided all mention of Gore’s striking statement—then “puzzled” about why Gore endorsed Dean. Gore said Iraq was a giant mistake? Pundits had bigger fish to fry. They were troubled by that phone call to Lieberman. They worried about Jeanne Shaheen’s feelings.

How inane is America’s press corps? Granted, quoting Debra Saunders is a low blow. But the San Fran Chronicle pseudo-conservative captured her colleagues’ inanity last week. How inane is Debra Saunders? Here was her view of what mattered:

SAUNDERS: As political consultant Garry South, who works for the Lieberman campaign, put it, “This would be similar to Bill Clinton in 2000 endorsing Bill Bradley (who ran against Gore in the primaries) and not notifying Gore he was going to do so until it was out in the press. How would Gore have felt?”
How would Gore have felt? The answer is obvious: What difference could it possibly make? Pols lose endorsements all the time. Sometimes, they may end up with hurt feelings. But all week, clowning pundits tried to tell you that the real story here was that phone call to Joe. It’s no surprise to see Debra Saunders zero in on this fatuous topic. But all across the national press, simpering pundits tried to tell you that this is the topic you should be considering. They stooped to the level of Debra Saunders—and they shown you the soul of your “press corps.”

One more point: Needless to say, they misstated their facts. According to Novak, Gore should have called John Kerry because “Kerry supported him in New Hampshire when he was running about double digits behind Bill Bradley.” In fact, Gore never trailed Bradley by any such margin. And where were the polls when Kerry endorsed? Kerry endorsed Gore on November 19, 1999; in the most recent Granite State poll (Quinnipiac), Gore led Bradley, 44-41. On November 18, the Manchester Union-Leader had quoted pollster Maurice Carroll. “(Bradley) has lost support in New Hampshire in the last few weeks, while Vice President Gore has gained,” Carroll said. Though Bradley had gone ahead in New Hampshire in late September or early October, statewide polls had started turning around after the Dems’ first debate. It was held on October 27.

Of course, none of this has a thing to do with the question of Gore’s missing phone call to Kerry. It does have something to do with your “press corps”— with its troubling lack of integrity. Remember: They never stop inventing fake facts designed to embellish their fatuous stories. Gore was “dressed like a farmer,” Schieffer said. Instinctively, Novak lied to you too. This pundit corps tells you the stories it likes. If the facts don’t fit, they reinvent them.

HOW THE CRIMINALLY INANE GET IN PRINT: As usual, the doctor was IN as Debra Saunders probed Gore’s puzzling conduct (headline: “Al Gore’s latest midlife crisis”). Beyond her trademark psychiatrization, Saunders made ouija-board guesses at Gore’s secret motives; offered her standard bizarre array of facts; and returned, of course, to Naomi Wolf, one of her primal obsessions. Meanwhile, Kathleen Parker also clowned in her nationally syndicated column last week. If you get the Orlando Sentinel, for example, you got to puzzle over this:

PARKER (pgh 5): Gore “loves” Dean for what Dean can give him. A Supreme Court nomination. A Cabinet position. Another vice presidency? And Dean loves Gore for bringing him the establishment credibility he needed.

(6) What makes this folie a deux so entertaining, of course, is that Gore deeply wants the man he endorsed to lose. Gore’s endorsement is the kiss Fredo gets before his little boat ride with Michael Corleone’s hitman.

Amusing, isn’t it? In paragraph 5, Parker reveals that Gore loves Dean because Dean will name him to the Supreme Court. But wouldn’t you know it? In the very next paragraph, she says that Gore hopes Dean will lose the election! How will Dean appoint Gore if he stays in Vermont? Readers, if you’re stupid enough to read Kathleen Parker, you’re stupid enough not to ask.

How do people like this get in print? Explanation: Today’s mainstream press corps will do almost anything to keep pseudo-conservative screamers off its back. Saunders is published to make the rubes happy. Every week, Phil Bronstein puts Saunders in print. He ought to be deeply embarrassed.

IT TOOK BALZ: Omigod! One pundit actually broke from the script! That free-thinking scribe was the Post’s Dan Balz, on Friday’s Washington Week in Review:

BALZ: But we shouldn’t—I mean, we shouldn’t forget that, that Joe Lieberman has spent the last 18 months or so distancing himself from the campaign of 2000 that he was part of, so that there’s been an estrangement in this relationship that we’ve seen on both sides and, and it kind of came out full-blown this week. But there was little likelihood, I think, that Gore was going to endorse Lieberman no matter what.
Indeed, Joe has dissed Al on various occasions. Did he call Gore first? Was he being disloyal? “Bigfoot” pundits don’t want you to ask. In fact, there was nothing wrong with what Lieberman did, and nothing wrong with Gore’s conduct either. And none of this foofaw was ever worth mentioning. But pundits had a script to sell, and—fatuous beings that they are—they peddled their script all week long. At long last, Saddam’s capture brought freedom.

TOMORROW: Who is Tammy Bruce (part 1)? And one last transcript from Imus.